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Archive for June, 2011

When I was a boy, I delivered newspapers in a small town. On Tuesdays, the paper was always thin. The canvas bag strapped around my sunburned neck was light on Tuesdays because there were no coupons that day. I finished my route of nearly 80 newspapers in less than an hour because I rode a bicycle. On Tuesdays, I sometimes managed to complete the route in less than 25 minutes, unless of course, Grace Hershey, an old woman with white hair, stopped me just to chat.
Grace complained on Tuesdays about the town newspaper; she fussed that it was a rip-off on Tuesdays and she wished that somehow she could maintain her subscription, minus Tuesday delivery.

When I was a little boy, I collected money once a month from people like Grace Hershey, on behalf of the newspaper for which I was paid nearly five-cents a copy for distributing.

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Betina Taylor won the blue ribbon for canned peaches at the Huntingdon County Fair in 1970. Betina’s name appeared in “The Huntingdon Daily News” as did all other winners of canned fruits, vegetables and preserves that year. She used her $8 winnings to get drunk at Keller’s bar in downtown Huntingdon. While celebrating her accomplishment as being published as one of the best potential house-wives in the county, she confessed to a bar tender that evening that she had cheated in winning the top prize. She thought the entire affair was really quite hysterical, especially since most people in Huntingdon thought of Betina as more of a tomboy than the dainty, girlish women who almost always took blue ribbons from the county fair.

Betina wore her silky, blue prize like a necklace as she sat at Keller’s and ordered a second Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. A beer was only fifty-cents then, and peaches were a dime a dozen in August.

The ribbon she took home from the fair was draped like a flag around her freckled neck. It rested between her sweaty cleavage like a wet piece of toilet paper stuck to an ass that had just been spanked. She blabbed loudly with a red face and guzzled her beer like men who surrounded her. Even the young farm boys at the back of the bar playing pinball heard her story.

She described, as she chugged down her beer like a thirsty cow, how she managed to fool the “expert judges” who were “supposed to be so fucking knowledgeable about canning”, but in reality knew nothing. The judges at the fair never actually tasted what was packed neatly inside of jars. She had proven her hypothesis that her father’s peaches were the sweetest in all of Huntingdon, but never as yellow as was needed to secure the top spot at the Huntingdon County Fair. Betina figured out how to can peaches that were as golden as the sun in morning or at sunset, and as she ordered a third beer, and patrons at the bar gathered nearer to her and sat on round bar stools, the truth about the winning peaches from 1970 spilled out that night. They all laughed like little girls when she finally told them the truth, and by the time all her winnings had been spent that night, the beers kept coming, because in Keller’s Bar, Betina never needed a dime of her own to get drunk and would treat anyone who was thirsty, as long as she still had money in her blue jeans.

The Taylor family of Stone Creek Ridge won several second- place red ribbons and cheesy, third-runner-up, white ribbons, for their peaches in the 1960’s, Never until Betina did the canning on top of an old, cast-iron, wood-burning cooking stove, did the peaches from George Taylor’s orchard take the coveted spot at the county fair.

“What kind of jars did you use?” The bartender asked, wiping the polished oak bar top with a wet white cloth. “They say the old blue- tinted Bell jars with porcelain lids work better than those new Mason jars with flat lids and a screw- on ring.” He carefully placed a fresh napkin under Betina’s beer, making sure to keep the beverage far enough from Betina’s swinging arms that moved just as fast as her thin, lips.

“Those old jars are a pain in the ass,” Betina explained. “Half of them don’t seal shut. I used Mason jars and didn’t even need a pressure cooker. Mom always put lemon juice and salt on her peaches before she stuffed them into jars, but the damned things never turned orange like mine did. I never understood why she canned so many damned peaches anyway. She always sold them, and I bet if you factored in the cost of the sugar it took to make a syrup bath that they are canned in, she lost money in the process. How can they figure out who has the best canned peaches at the fair if they never taste the damned things?” Betina asked the crowd.

“They look for blemishes on the fruit, how it was pealed, and stuff like that,” an old man holding a shot of whisky over his dry lips and unshaven chin explained. It was Joe McCall whose wife, an excellent canner, had passed onto glory two years prior, and Joe missed the hell out of having a good woman around.

“You are goddamned right they look for soft spots and stuff like that. That’s my big secret– how to get perfectly round peaches, all of the same size, into a jar without them looking homemade or all mushy,” Betina shot back. “Just wait until next year, I’ll win all the fucking ribbons if I want.”

Joe McCall slowly sipped his whiskey and wondered if ever Betina would get drunk enough at the bar to at least offer him a blow job.

“You goddamned Taylor’s are all a bunch of fucking crooks, just quit bragging and tell us how you cheated the contest judges, like that sister of yer’s, ‘the Red Arrow Bea’. Why don’t you tell us all how she done canned half the drunk fuckers that come into this bar,” a man with a hanky over his balding head shouted. A long gray pony- tail rested on his left shoulder atop a black t-shirt that was heavily dotted in white dandruff.

“You gotta wash yer jars good, in hot, soapy water first,” Betina explained, ignoring the ignorant man. “And then after you wash all the suds off, you gotta keep the jars in real hot water until the peaches are stuffed in. That prevents infections from getting in, like it does your peckers. You know, some people die from eating shit that ain’t canned right. Some people will even cook their peaches for a minute or two to soften them, but Mom never did, neither did I.” Betina laughed, burped, took a deep breath and continued– “Don’t ever forget to leave a little space at the top of the jar so air can get in and so the fruit settles just perfectly. Make sure you got a rack to put the jars on, cause if you put them right in boiling water, they’ll bump up against each other and crack. I only boiled my peaches for about ten minutes. When I took them out, I made sure to shut all the windows in the house because they say that if there is a draft, the jars will not make that popping sound and seal shut.”

“You ain’t telling us nothing about canning we didn’t already know,” the bartender insisted. “I bet it’s those peaches your daddy planted up there on the ridge, years ago, before he died. His peaches are the real reason why you took home the blue ribbon. He was such a good farmer.”

“You wanna know why I won?” Betina asked, reaching for her can of beer. “I didn’t even use those fucking peaches from dad’s trees. I’m so goddamned sick of those things, I could just spit. We was poor you know. Hell, sometimes, I ate canned peaches for breakfast before going to school and had to shit before class even started. Is it any wonder I turned out so damned dumb? Well I guess I’m not that dumb, because I won $8 for taking two cans of peaches I bought at the store and canned them the old-fashion way. Mom watched me do it. Said I should be ashamed of myself for even trying it. Well guess what? These Blue Ribbon’s tasted pretty damned good.” Betina laughed loudly and grabbed the blue ribbon around her neck as if it were an expensive string of pears and waited until one of the men offered to buy her another beer.

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Anthony Weiner is possessed by a demon, or as some say, “he suffers from a psychiatric disorder” Nothing has been published thus far regarding exactly what psychiatric diagnosis the congressman has, but in a nutshell, he is possessed by a demon, the type that Jesus took out of Jews, and it was not the congressman who acted sexually inappropriately.

Anyone who has ever experienced the thrill of what the inter- net offers when one is high and masturbating can only attest to the fact that demonic forces are in possession of the world wide web and are being spread around like a male prostitute in Sodom.

Weiner is not alone in his Linda Blair, head-spinning orgasmic rituals that involve real-time buffering. Anyone who owns a small hand held device with web-browsing capabilities has likely been taken by the legion of demons with too many names to mention.

Like spiders, cyber-demons are invading the psyches of all who are connected. Our addiction to constant Facebook contact has bled our imaginations dry. Eventually, these demons will cause all of civilization to go mad like Anthony Weiner, but on a mass scale, unless congress passes a bill to stop it.

Society will become one giant, dried-up, unemployed insect and all that will be left is the $7.9 Billion that Congressman Anthony Weiner single-handedly secured for the first-responders of the September 11th attack who are now “sick”. A written digital record will be left behind of all our sexual exploits on-line. The document, unearthed by future beings of this planet will show how it was that mankind started foaming at the mouth and became a conglomerate of sexually insatiable perverts.

Due to a sudden collapse of the Dow, the $7.9 Billion that Anthony Weiner secured while acting like a deranged, manic, bi-polar Jew on the House Floor will have all been spent. They money, on monthly stock statements, will have vanished due to some unforeseen bubble in the market, but we all know how it will be  blown– on high-price hookers who market themselves as mental health professionals and have the nerve to call everyone but Anthony Weiner psychotic.

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Rain from thunderstorms filled the rain barrel at the base of my grandmother’s trailer. A steel metal drum rested on cinder blocks under a rainspout beneath her bedroom window. An aluminum spouting ran the entire length of her pink trailer, catching droplets that hit the tin roof over the living room, carrying the precious liquid element to a place in her front yard, just yards away from a vegetable garden. She used a recycled coffee can to carry water from the barrel to the garden that she tended to every day. She poked holes in the bottom of the can with a nail.

Running quickly to her flowers with that can, she flew up and down rows of cabbage scattering her captured showers, days after the rain had fallen. She worked from sunrise until it got too hot, always watering in the morning because “plants like it like that,” she explained to me in the manner that grandmother’s toy with the imaginations of those in the next generation– “Did you hear God moving furniture last night?” she asked as I carefully scooped dead bugs and moths from atop the water in the barrel as our supply slowly depleted.

On June mornings, on my way from the old farmhouse, running past the chicken coop on a path in the yard where my bare feet had carved a brown trail, I’d stop to pick up a mulberry or two. I was always careful running though the green grass of the yard, avoiding white patches of clover where yellow jacket bees were known to be. The pain of their stings was like that I had ever known—in between my toes a little stinger one day was planted. I screamed at the top of my little lungs– running all the way to Esther’s trailer. I squished mulberries between a space in my bite where a tooth had been lost, happy that day I did not get stung. My frail body quivered at the rush of purple sugar from a mouth full of mulberries. I didn’t bother eating around the little green stem they each had. Cold rain water trickled over the top of the barrel. I was tempted to jump in, but it was too cold. Instead I put my face in first, holding my nose, proving to myself that I could swim. Into the rain barrel I splashed my arms up to the elbows, rinsing my hands mostly clean of the purple stains. I knew not to touch Esther’s polyester pants when I got inside and hugged her leg. She made us cups of instant coffee despite what my mother had said about how chatty it made me.

 

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After Esther moved into her new pink trailer, her three youngest children lived in the house covered in brown shingles. One of the bedrooms was sealed from the rest of the house with a brass padlock. Only Esther knew where the key was kept and she never once had reason to go into the highly secretive room. Her son Barry, along with a sixteen year-old wife, Lou, took the secluded bedroom with four windows at the back of the house. The room had the most privacy in the old house. It was separated from other bedrooms by a large living room. Youngest daughter Betina slept in a small room next to the front porch in a portion of the house that was added on after Esther had given birth to her second daughter Berdetta. Betina shared the cozy little room with several men, all of whom she had met at a bar just outside of Huntingdon. Every one of the men had been brought to the farm house atop Stone Creek Ridge under a false impression that Betina was falling in love and was ready to get married. Betina was under pressure to find a man because she had always been known as a Tom Boy and there were concerns that she may never truly want a family and farm of her own one day. Betina hated being the last of the Taylor children to get married at the Lutheran Church, but considering what Bea had been doing to make a living, the pressure on her own reputation subsided. She convinced several  men to fall madly in love with her. These men, often skinny and prematurely bald managed to spend more than two weeks at the place, but often they would run out of the house screaming, with everything that was theirs tucked under their arms. Betina was known for picking fights, especially when she was drunk, and on Stone Creek Ridge, drinking was all there was to do when there was no rent to be paid.  Betina would threaten to cut her boyfriend’s balls with a rusty saw. The men saw evil in her hazel eyes. Romances for Betina lasted no longer than a loaf of bread would before getting moldy. She slept in the little room alone most of the time, where in her drunken dreams, she somehow managed to let go of a hidden desire to be naked next to another woman.

Esther’s blonde daughter Bernice did not drink heavily, nor was she a whore like the family’s eldest girl, Bea. ‘Bernie’, as Bernice was called, was not a blonde like Marilyn Monroe was a blonde. Bernie’s hair was not pure white like snow, either. Her hair had a subtle red glow inherited from her mother Esther, yet she was not a true redhead, in the sense that one could see the sunset in the strands. Bernie thought of her hair as too frizzy for a real blonde. She wished she had hair like Barry’s wife Lou. Lou’s hair was straight and grew all the way down to her ass without curling or becoming frizzy. Dark mascara surrounding Bernie’s blue eyes did not cause her to look like a raccoon. Instead, it added a bit of mischief to her demeanor, which was often was shy, mysterious and withdrawn. Bernie was as wholesome as a girl could be in those days. She didn’t drink a lot and smoked only for fun. She took over the master bedroom with her new husband Barry. It seemed a little crazy and confusing with two men named Barry living in the house, especially considering Barry Rupert, Bernie’s husband, could easily pass as a twin of her brother, Barry, who always wished he had a brother his own age, and not another sister with red hair who always made him play girl games. Barry had to play the part of a sick patient in his sister’s imaginary hospitals or triage units that the girls constructed with old sheets Esther had given them.  Even as a young man, Barry Taylor resented all of his sisters for how they had mistreated him when he was a little boy. All Barry ever wanted to do was play cowboys and Indians. Having Barry Rupert around was refreshing to him, especially since Barry Taylor was not the type to drink and just sit around and play with themselves, like little girls.

Esther insisted that the room filled with her clothing, wigs and big, cozy bed remain locked and off- limits. The bed that Esther shared with her husband George was too large to fit inside her new mobile home. When a woman needs to let go of the spirit of a man from whom all her children came, it is best to no longer sleep in the same bed. It is not easy to throw away anything that love and children were made upon, either. Esther felt it would be best to let the bed stay in that old house, in the same spot it had always been. She was fearful that one of her own kids would be silly enough to make out or drink on it, staining the beautiful quilt that was sewn with Amish precision, so a lock went on the door and was not open for nearly ten years.

Esther’s mother Granny Morgan who moved to the farm with Esther after she had married George for his money, huge farm and seemingly endless acres of land. All seven Esther’s children’s names, starting with the letter ‘B”, were sewn in cursive upon the quilt by Esther’s mother, Granny Morgan. It was a wedding gift. Esther loved the quilt too much to let anything happen to it, yet she chose not to take it with her to her new trailer either. In a sense, she had to let the soul of her mother go too when she moved out of that house. It seemed funny that they were both dead now. Her mother often stormed out of the house in anger at George. This act always puzzled Esther. She did not understand, nor did she try to comprehend the relationship her mother had with her husband. Granny Morgan would walk for miles in the dead of night, stomping down the dirt lanes that were so common atop Stone Creek Ridge. George eventually would give-in, jump in his car, and drive around for hours searching for Granny Morgan who often put up a great fight, refusing to get in the car to be driven back home. Esther simply locked the bedroom door after George killed himself. Granny Morgan had died years ago already. The room, in her eyes, was not suitable for anyone else to sleep in. There was an invisible anger, or evilness inside, it seemed at times.

There was an antique lamp in Esther and George’s old room. It had a peculiar shade that glowed after the bulb was shut off. After so many years, the shade still emitted a translucent green glow, but only after it was fully charged from at least an hour of the light bulb being turned on. With none of the kids using that room, and with Esther off in her new pink trailer, the shade slowly faded out and chipped away and rotted, but the spirits inside the old farmhouse did not. With each passing can of beer, memories of both George and Granny Morgan slowly faded, but the door always stayed locked, and for anyone living the house that was known for flickering lights when those who had passed were mentioned, there was a sense that bad luck would befall the one foolish enough to go snooping around Esther’s blonde and black wigs.

It seemed right to Esther to leave both the cherished blanket and the old lamp in the room next to her bed. The mounted head of a ten point buck shot among George’s Christmas tree crop looked as real as it did the day he drug it through the orchard and up  the hill. Esther did not want the deer head  in her new trailer. Its glowing black eyes stared straight ahead like it had always done when she put the lock on the door. Esther remembered staring blankly into the glow of  the green lamp shade, just like a deer mounted on the wall, when George made love to her. The smell of his breath was intense sometimes, but the glow of the lamp soothed Esther’s mind and enabled her to imagine other things outside the mundane existence of a life of a girl trapped on a farm. Esther, for a short time, thought the cause of having nothing but girls was due to the glow of that lamp that she could not help but escaping into when life seemed like such a trap.

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Aunt Bea

Esther Taylor’s children were baptized at the Lutheran Church at the summit of Stonecreek Ridge. The wooden house of worship was painted white and seated no more than fifty parishioners comfortably. On Sunday mornings, unstained windows were cracked to invite fresh spring breezes along with the Holy Spirit inside. The scent of mildew from old hymnal pages was infused with that of the oak pews. Only a few souls sang; most watched dumfounded with bated breath.

The Lutheran Church like the Catholic Church will baptize an infant in a heartbeat, despite the fact that the lord was a young adult himself before being submersed in the muddy Jordan.  The sign of the cross was sprinkled delicately over screaming bald infant heads. Little bare feet kicked in protest, while outside, robins tip-toed upon green grass still dipped in dew; poking their pointed beaks into the ground like pitchforks, pulling out worms and gobbling them down as a minister read versus from the book of John. Not a soul took note of the scripture being read. A sense of accomplishment and contentment was in the heart of every mother and father who presented their offerings to the Lord like Esther did with all seven of hers.

Never were the babes emerged totally under water. There was a sense of peace that distilled like moonshine upon the hearts of mothers who guide their children to that old rugged cross through baptism, especially when a mother understands that church records are more official and important than paperwork kept in courthouses.

Esther named all seven of her children with names that started with the letter ‘B’, perhaps because all her kids were all baptized in the little Lutheran Church with no stained-glass windows. She hoped the act would prevent the baptisms of fire that were so common in times when all that was needed to feed another mouth was to add three more potatoes to the batches of mashed ones that were boiled for dinner every night. It was amazing how many mouths the Lord could feed off just one potato patch planted on less than an acre of land.

The Lord and his ways of providing were not hard to understand. As long as one was baptized, he never went hungry. “Be fruitful and multiply,” was the theme of every baptism made at the old Lutheran Church. Esther’s first born son, who most assume had an official name of William, had a letter B in his Lutheran name. “Bill” was written by hand, in script, upon the baptismal record at the church. At the courthouse in town, Bill was William, officially, but on top the hill, he was made, before the Lord, a Bill.

Esther was a woman well into her twenties– or so it seemed, unless one were to compare the official record of Esther Taylor the Lutheran to that of Esther Emerson, who was born a Catholic, who later went on to change her name to Staub in a second marriage, and a conflicting certificate of divorce which indicates Esther gave birth to her second child, Beatrice when she was just three.

It was an age when nobody stopped to ask a lady’s official age, when mothers who went into a Baptism came out, born again, so to speak.

Birth certificates were useless documents to families who lived secluded lives away from busy towns and cities, anyway. What was in a man’s heart and the glow in his eyes was how age was determined. When Esther went into the Huntingdon courthouse, one week following a sprinkling of holy drops upon Bill’s little bald head, she was moved to fill out paperwork at the courthouse to change an incorrect date of birth on her own official documentation listed within the Lutheran Church. She argued with the town clerk for several hours, insisting that the age of her own birth was listed improperly by the Catholics, and because she was required to list her date of birth upon her son’s document, it did not seem right to admit to being just over thirteen years of age when one could just as easily be three.

After learning from the town clerk that such an error was rare on birth certificates, Esther took it upon herself to correct the typographical error of her year of birth, years later on her own copy of the official document. Rather than make herself older after the death of her husband, she cunningly cut twenty years from her life once and for good on city papers.  She asked her daughter who attended secretarial school to use one of the fancy typewriters for which she had access, to make a change of the birth certificate that made Esther appear much older than what she actually was. If it were not for the Lutheran Church and the documented baptism of her children, Esther Taylor would never have grown older than forty, either officially or in the eyes of others.

After Esther’s second child, Beatrice, gave birth to the family’s first grandson, oddly named “Bing” , Esther started to regret having used so many of the popular B names already. Esther  insisted to her daughter, that Bing not be baptized because the Lutheran Church had too many secrets.

Esther went on to raise her grandson Bing, without an official church blessing. Beatrice moved away from the farm and Stonecreek Ridge to settle in Harrisburg. Beatrice attended secretarial school there. Esther called the little boy ‘Bingo’ and for good reason, for it seemed after the fat little boy with chubby cheeks came into the world, a stream of cash as glorious as the Jordon was made readily available to Esther and the little boy. 

It was lonely living on the top of a mountain in an empty house that once was filled with so much laughter and the constant babbling of all things B. Esther’s husband was dead. He crashed his car while driving drunk a few months after Esther had left him. Esther moved into an apartment with her daughter Beatrice in the nearby town of Huntingdon. Mother and daughter waited patiently for the child to be born. Prior to Beatrice’s decision to move far away to Harrisburg where a girl with a clean birth certificate, a cunning smile and bright red hair could find a good government job, George kicked Beatrice out of the house. The mother and daughter were the spitting-image of each other– both having bright orange hair, blue eyes and beauty unmatched by any blonde. The pregnancy drove George to his death.

It is not a strange coincidence that George turned to heavy drinking after his wife left the farm, turning from their chickens to tend to different hens of sorts—Beatrice and Esther did hair for a living in Huntingdon. It was so silent on the farm after all the children but one, Barry, the youngest, had gone. George could not tolerate the solitude. On hot, lazy afternoons, only the buzzing of airplanes flying high overhead broke a steady, nerve-wracking tone of millions of grasshoppers singing to slowly in the heat of summer.

Bea and Esther started a beauty parlor in Huntingdon, for it seemed the business was better than the one that caused so much anger to surface in George and to cause a man to disown his own flesh and blood. George wondered why she had even been baptized. Esther wanted a divorce from George long before the scandal erupted involving their eldest daughter. Esther threatened that if George did not stop drinking, she would leave him. She left her husband of forty years the next day. Esther used the excuse that George slapped Beatrice far too hard for a girl well into her way to womanhood, and quite honestly, Esther was sick of how possessive George was of her as his wife. Esther gave birth to all seven of their children at home, on the kitchen floor, not because they were poor, or because they were Lutherans. George did not want any other man to see his “wife’s bird”. It is no wonder he lost his cool when he learned what Beatrice, his red-head girl was being called.

George arrived home from a day of hard work intoxicated. He stumbled up the lane and nearly fell to his knees as he walked under a mulberry tree. At sunset, the glow of the red horizon turned his blood shoot eyes to a terrifying glow of the devil. He slapped his daughter with his giant, red, hand without explaining why he was doing it. He nearly knocked her two front teeth out. He left  behind a welt that swelled like a bee sting. Despite the ice that melted while Esther held it in a plastic bag upon Bea’s cheek with shaking hands, the swelling would not go down.

The farm house, although seemingly as large as a hive is to bees, started to close in on Esther when Bingo came along, soon after George was dead. Esther wanted a fresh start, and agreed with her daughter that in order to be able to raise the child that seemed to come from a stork, she would need a trailer to live in. Esther wanted a pink one with carpet inside. For so long she had lived in the big farm house.

Bea left home in a rush, fluttering away from the family, spreading her own pollen of sorts across the sprawling countryside filled with many fields of clover, corn and hay.

Certain gentlemen, in hushed circles of town gossip, started referring to the red head with a not so pristine reputation as the “red arrow” and not using the letter B as B’s mother, Esther with her first letter vowel insisted upon. Bing, Bea’s child was conceived during a moment of hot passion between a business woman and an important man of town. Bea, who has always had a knack for business, years before becoming a secretary, found no purpose in marriage. The commissioner of a Pennsylvania federal prison had children of his own already, and a wife with a temper as hot as the red hair that lined Bea’s near translucent and pale Irish skin and vagina that opened like a pussy willow next to a green, stagnant pond on Stonecreek Ridge in the heat of August.

The freckles on her youthful and muscular farm girl legs caused men to salivate when having sex with her. In states of heightened, drunken arousal, the men began to salivate over Esther’s second eldest, like she was a piece of chicken. The image of those freckles brought to mind salt and pepper on mashed potatoes to the many farm men turned construction workers who stopped by the beauty shop on their way home from work, hours before dinner.

 A cash settlement made it possible for Bea to pull her life together, move away from the farm, and begin what was to become a senior position with the Pennsylvania Dept Labor.

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